language

Diary Entry #4 - learning never stops

The academic year has well and truly begun. The streets are now teeming with students and I think it is high time I became a student again and 'kick-started' my Russian. Start to practice what I preach a little bit more!

After studying French at school, I, like so many of my fellow countryman, wasn't interested in learning another language. One is enough was the mantra! But for some reason, over 8 years ago I decided I wanted to learn Spanish. Well actually, earlier that year I had went abroad for the first time in over 10 years and unsurprisingly it was to Spain. 

I thought it would be pretty easy. Spend 30-40mins a day with my Rossetta Stone CD-rom, learn a few thousands words and then voila new language at my disposal. I worked my way through the different levels of their program and I felt like I knew quite a lot. My accent was terrible of course, but I could recognise different sounds and I could quickly tell you the Spanish for "cat", "gentleman", "hat", "open". "close" etc.

So now it was time to buy a one-way ticket to Spain. I literally did - from Luton or Stansded to Santander. But before I left I felt it was prudent to have a few conversational classes. I found a wonderful native Spanish teacher living in Birmingham and had 5 classes. 

I remember getting to my hotel in Santander and completed the formalities with the receptionist with relative ease. But, that was pretty much the only success I had on my whole journey! I could answer all the questions in the app but couldn't express any idea myself and had very little idea of what was being said to me. Back to the drawing board. Or rather, put learning Spanish on the back burner and focus my attention on something else.

However, fast-forward 6 years and my enrolment in a Russian course for foreigners at the Minsk State Linguistic University. Out of the frying pan and into the fire! New alphabet, some hardcore grammar (there can be 24 different words just for one adjective) and some crazy sounds. 'Hard' is not an adjective that does it justice. 

But now I've become an English teacher I feel much better equipped to make good progress. I also know that learning a language is not bloody easy. It's a long road and my expectations are much lower than 9 years ago. I'm looking forward to my weekly Saturday classes and finding YouTube videos in Russian and Instagram accounts to troll.

I'll report back my progress in July.

Why don't people say 'Roubles'?

I've noticed that language learners try to avoid saying amounts in their own currency, which my literal brain finds a little bit odd.

I was at a cafe earlier today and the barista quickly took the opportunity to practice her English (which is commendable). I only said "americano pazholsta". And then she wanted 3 pounds off me. I look confused. I'm sure I heard the 'd' sound for dollars before she settled for coins.

This is just one example of many. There's a god chance the foreigner has brought some of the local currency and probably would have researched the name of the currency too :)

I'm sure in Poland they don't have the same issue asking foreigners for Zloty, or maybe they do??